[Ppnews] Palestine - The prisoners are the living martyrs
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 12 14:23:01 EDT 2011
"The prisoners are the living martyrs"
11 October 2011
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip hold photos of
imprisoned family members during a solidarity
protest with hunger strikers in Israeli jails.
I havent been getting enough sleep lately. Last
night I was exhausted in body and mind, but tried
to keep my eyes open to follow updates on the
prisoners conditions. My heart and mind were
with them completely, in every corner of the
horrible Israeli prisons where our heroes
continue to display persistence and steadfastness.
Deciding to rebel against the cruel conditions
they could no longer endure, hundreds of
prisoners started a
strike on 27 September. Approximately 6,000
detainees inside Israeli prisons are forgotten
about and treated as if they are less than animals.
Israel, which claims to be the only democracy in
the Middle East, seems to forget that prisoners
are humans and have rights. The Palestinian
prisoners are on hunger strike in the hope that
Israel will grant their simple demands. But while
they are calling in loud voices for their rights,
Israel is reacting negatively, using every method
it has to force the prisoners to give up.
Prisoners are being sent to isolation cells in
increasing numbers, family visits and lawyers are
being denied, families threatened, and identity
cards, belongings and clothing confiscated. This
is all in addition to the constant torment they already have to endure.
Israel is violating international law and nobody
is stopping it. Oh, pardon me for forgetting that
Israel is beyond any law! Approximately 285
Palestinian children are currently imprisoned,
and the world is still silent. Nobody will dare challenge Israel.
I am very emotionally attached to the prisoners
issue, especially their hunger strike, not only
because I am Palestinian but also because I am
the daughter of a released prisoner. I was
brought up hearing my fathers sad stories, full
of suffering and despair, which remain stuck in
his memory and will never leave him.
My fathers experience of hunger striking
My fathers eyes would have never seen the sun if
Ahmad Jibril of the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine General Command
(PFLP-GC) didnt manage to make a deal exchanging
three Israeli prisoners he held captive in 1985,
in return for the release of 1,250 Palestinian
political prisoners. My family was watching the
news concerning the current prisoners hunger
strike when Dad started telling us about his
imprisonment, which lasted for 15 years.
I witnessed and participated in the longest
hunger strike in the history of Palestinian
prisoners in 1982, which lasted for 33
consecutive days, he said. Three prisoners died
and tens of cases were sent to hospital,
including about 27 for dehydration, but what else
could we do to pressure them to provide us with the smallest things?
Thinking deeply about my fathers words, and
trying to imagine the awful conditions of the
Palestinians inside the merciless Israeli jails,
broke my heart. All the unbearable treatment
prisoners endure is totally unfair and against humanity.
Before I wrote this article, I took part in a
Gaza City demonstration in solidarity with these
prisoners, whose health is getting worse every
day, but who will bravely continue. I was lucky
to not have early lectures at university, so I
could be there at 9:00 am protesting against the
situation facing our prisoners. I had some
conversations with other women protesting there,
too. Most of them were either released prisoners
or had sons, brothers, or husbands in prison and on hunger strike.
One of them was a mother of six children, who
grew up as if they were fatherless her husband
is spending his 26th year inside a damned Israeli
prison. I was one month pregnant with my
youngest girl, who is 25 years old now, when my
husband was arrested, she said. My oldest girl
was only seven years old. All my kids do have a
father but they became adults without their father around, like orphans.
She kept describing to me how hard it was to be
alone without her husband taking care of six
children, and how much she suffered and endured
to make her husband, sentenced to lifelong
imprisonment, proud of his children when he
hopefully someday gets his freedom back. I was
very young, only 24 years old, when he went to
prison. I stayed in this state of a married woman
who has to live without a husband for 26 years
for my six children. Thankfully, I now have 25
grandchildren, she said proudly.
Miracles needed to contact prisoners
Then she burst out crying, and said that she was
worried because she heard that the Israeli army
attacked Ashkelon prison where her husband is
held the day before. They violently attempted to
force the impossible to make the hunger strike end.
I couldnt hide my tears anymore, despite trying
so hard not to let them fall. I didnt know what
to do to calm her down. The woman told me that
she and all other prisoners families have been
denied visitation rights since
won the 2006 election. They hear nothing from
their imprisoned family members, except rarely,
when some miracle happens; like when someone from
the West Bank visits relatives who are imprisoned
with her husband. Then, her husband can ask the
visitor to convey a message to her that he is doing well.
I couldnt say anything but for prayers that God
provide her with patience and that her husband gets his freedom back soon.
My father has always said that prisoners are the
living martyrs. I think they really deserve this
honor for all the injustice and suffering they
endure. This open hunger strike of the
Palestinian prisoners will continue until Israel
addresses their demands. International solidarity
is needed now more than ever. Everyone needs to
wake up and do something. We shouldnt let the
cruel conditions of the Palestinian detainees last forever.
Shahd Abusalama is an artist, blogger and English
literature student from the Gaza Strip. Her blog
is called <http://palestinefrommyeyes.blogspot.com/>Palestine from My Eyes.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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